An unprecedented demand is being placed on NHS dentists because people are keeping their teeth longer, an expert is warning.
Prof Jimmy Steele, a dental consultant at Newcastle University, says in a report published today that the change will "hit the NHS hard in the next decade or so".
His research - along with that of experts at King's College London - found the percentage of people aged 65 to 74 with no natural teeth in 1998 was 36% compared with 79% 30 years earlier. They predict the figure will be 20% to 25% in 2025. He said: "Those people who were born during the early years of the NHS have benefited from regular dental treatment throughout their lives and they have higher expectations as a result.
"They want to keep their teeth, but to do so they will need a lot of professional attention from dental teams who have a sound training in gerodontology, the science of looking after older people's teeth."
Prof Steele wants older people to have extended consultations to plan long-term care and for more dentists to train in gerodontology.